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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with James E. Holshouser Jr., January 31, 1998. Interview C-0328-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Appreciating the sincerity of politicians

Holshouser remembers how his early experiences in the North Carolina State Legislature, hearing politicians debate different issues from different perspectives. Whereas he had believed that certain politicians were simply being difficult when they voiced opposition for one position or another, he came to appreciate the sincerity of those on both sides of the political divide.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with James E. Holshouser Jr., January 31, 1998. Interview C-0328-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JACK FLEER:
And you mentioned earlier this particular episode involving court reform that you think might have sparked an interest at that time.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER, JR.:
I think that was a law interest as opposed to politics, that I thought that, everything I heard when we were discussing court reform and a need for it when I was in law school. The law professors talked about how much North Carolina needed to have its court structure overhauled.
JACK FLEER:
The law professors brought that up?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER, JR.:
Yes. I think that is what stimulated the interest in that issue. Not in the legislature per se. But we watched Spencer Bell and Lindsay Warren. Spencer Bell, a lot of interesting thing about that, Spencer Bell was a very erudite guy from Charlotte who didn't get involved very much in the good old boy network within the legislature in Raleigh. Lindsay Warren was part of the traditional eastern group. They called him the "Lion of Beaufort" as I recall and was very much an orator. I never did know him. Never did get to meet him. But you had the clear impression that Spencer Bell had the right, was on the side of the angels and the other people were just being obstructionist. The most fascinating thing to me in going to the legislature in 1963 and 1965 and watching these issue debated is that I had come there with the impression that there were some people who were either idiots or operating from totally bad motives if they were on the other side of certain issues. And much to my dismay and enlightenment I found that they were not only not idiots but were really genuinely concerned about issues that I hadn't thought. While I didn't change my mind, I didn't think their issue overweighed my side, I couldn't, I had a whole new appreciation for what politics really gets to be all about.
JACK FLEER:
So it didn't produce in you any cynicism or turn you off from politics at all?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER, JR.:
No
JACK FLEER:
Which could well have happened, couldn't it?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER, JR.:
That is right. I was pretty naïve when I went to the legislature the first time and pretty young, was just twenty-eight and had a crew cut. The first day on the floor in the house one of the senior legislators asked me to take his bill up to the clerk. He thought I was a page. That was, that lets you down sort of hard.